Education & Leadership

The YMCA cares about teens. The YMCA cultivates teen leaders. The YMCA creates opportunities for teens to contribute to their communities.

Y teen programs partner with families, schools, businesses, and the entire community to help provide brighter futures for young people. Our YMCA gives teens a safe place to call their own and a chance to connect with positive role models and adults who care about them. Teen programs include youth development activities, leadership groups, community service projects, exposure to diverse career options, after-school activities, tutoring and mentoring, sports, camping, strength-training, and fun, recreational events.


Y-Achievers is committed to enhancing academic, personal and career goals of high school students from diverse backgrounds. The group brings students and adult role models together to help students succeed in school and learn marketable skills. The program includes career cluster sessions, study skills, team building, communication training and field trips to colleges and professional work places.

Service Learning

Teens are a great resource in our community. They have talents and energy. They care about others. The YMCA has always depended upon teens to provide leadership with younger kids. Teens participate in leadership development classes and volunteer in their communities. Some choose to work on special projects while others coach basketball or teach swim lessons.

YMCA Youth & Government

Democracy must be learned by each generation. Each September for six months, more than 2,000 high school sophomores, juniors and seniors throughout California learn first-hand how our state government works—not by watching, but by doing! The model legislature is at the heart of the program, but the preparation of teams right here in our YMCA locations is crucial to developing content and strategy for the trip to our State Capitol in Sacramento. Then there are the dances, elections, talent shows, and socializing—also part of what makes this a great experience.

Teen Centers

Teen Centers provide a safe and fun place for teens Afterschool. Our Teen Center coordinators and volunteers provide teens guidance in participating in a variety of programs offered at the YMCA. Teen Centers include a place for studying and homework help, as well as fun recreational activities and opportunities to socialize with other teens Afterschool and during special evening and weekend events.

Counselor in Training (CIT) and Leader in Training (LIT) Teen Leadership Programs at Camp

The camp environment provides a unique opportunity for youth to build leadership skills, particularly in assisting counselors with younger campers. In CIT and LIT camp programs, we teach the general skills of leadership that can be used at school, home and community (not just at camp). For younger camp leaders (ages 13-15), the curriculum includes working with younger kids at camp, but often includes community components like volunteering at senior centers or YMCAs. Counselors-in-Training or "CITs" are the oldest campers who typically want to apply for a job at camp the next summer, maybe as a Junior Counselor or some other supporting role. They need to learn more specific skills for working with kids and co-workers, and more experience planning and leading activities. Both programs give kids age-appropriate challenges that build their skills, confidence and capacity for working with people of all ages.



Project Cornerstone

Project CornerstoneProject Cornerstone’s vision is simple—to build a web of support around every young person in our community. This web of support includes families, schools, community centers, faith communities and local businesses. Unfortunately, these resources are disconnected from each other and often from children and youth themselves. Project Cornerstone facilitates the connection of the separate parts of the web so that young people can count on individuals and organizations working together to provide them with consistent support and guidance.

Project Cornerstone promotes the research-based developmental assets approach as a guiding framework and a common language to enable individuals and organizations to work together toward our common goal of supporting the healthy development of all children and youth. We leverage partnerships to influence public policy, programs and personal behavior. Project Cornerstone provides training and consultation and shares resources and best practice models to build the capacity of children’s and youth program providers, schools, governments, foundations, businesses, faith communities, and other community groups to support young people and strengthen our community.

Most people think of assets in terms of property or financial resources. However, Developmental Assets are the positive relationships, opportunities, values and skills that young people need to grow up caring and responsible.

The Search Institute identified the 40 developmental assets as the essential building blocks of healthy child and youth development - including adult role models, positive peer influence, caring school climates and a sense that community values youth. With input from diverse community members, Project Cornerstone has added a 41st asset “positive cultural identity" to the framework we use.

Project CornerstoneProject Cornerstone was founded in by the Youth Alliance, a collaborative of the following community based organizations: YMCAs of Santa Clara Valley and the Mid Peninsula; YWCA of Santa Clara Valley; Girl Scouts; Boy Scouts; Big Brothers/Big Sisters; Boys & Girls Club; and Estrella Family Services. The YMCA of Santa Clara Valley is Project Cornerstone’s parent organization.

For more information, visit the Project Cornerstone website.

For more information about Developmental Assets please click here.


Education & Leadership programs vary by location. For details, contact the YMCA nearest you.

Central YMCA - (408) 298-1717
East Palo Alto Family YMCA - (650) 328-9622
East Valley Family YMCA - (408) 715-6500
El Camino YMCA - (650) 969-9622
Mt. Madonna YMCA - (408) 762-6000
Northwest YMCA - (408) 257-7160
Palo Alto Family YMCA - (650) 856-9622
Sequoia YMCA - (650) 368-4168
South Valley Family YMCA - (408) 226-9622
Southwest YMCA - (408) 370-1877
YMCA Camp Campbell - (831) 338-2128
Centennial Recreation Center(in partnership with the YMCA of Silicon Valley) - (408) 782-2128

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